You Want a Pizza This? A Taste of Resistance Against Conventional Norms of Femininity Through Pizza

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There’s no question that there’s been a rise in healthy food trends such as Kale, Acai, and going gluten free, which has exploded in health and fitness awareness that’s inevitably trickled into fashion. The quote that Kate Moss is rumored to have said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” best embodies the discipline of obeying the rules of womanhood in modern day: Actively seeking out the newest superfoods, workouts, gym apparel, diet fads in a quest for skinny.

The antithesis of this granola-eating, green smoothie sipping world of yoga-mongers are the pizza-eating, hamburger loving, “I know the Guac is extra” (money-wise and wasitline wise) fanatics who resist and refuse to buy into the frenzy of eating healthy, deciding instead to embrace their love affair for grease.

The Pizza Hauters vs. Society

So then what does it mean to show resistance for these greasers? Resistance means actively going against the dominant idea of accepted norm (in this case, the stereotypes of what it means to be feminine) through expression in actions, clothing, and mannerisms. In the case of the Pizza Hauters (a name that is something I’ve come up with and has no real grounding) a sub-subculture within the subculture of foodies best recognized by their devotion and love for pizza,  resistance means literally wearing and showing their love for pizza in the clothing that they wear, the way in which they hold themselves, and the food of choice without regard to society’s expectations of femininity. These women go against the accepted view of women as docile beings, and instead choose to stand in defense of their lifestyle preferences.

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If the Pizza Hauters are actively resisting the dominant, accepted ideal of womanly behavior, we must first acknowledge the dominant viewpoint that society has placed on what it means to be feminine. In her article, Foucault, Femininity and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power, Bartky acknowledges that femininity is “a mode of enacting and reenacting received gender norms which surface as so many styles of the flesh…those disciplinary practices that produce a body which in gesture and appearance is recognizably feminine. The disciplinary practices aim to “produce a body of certain size and general configuration,” a “specific repertoire of postures and movements, “ and the body as a “display” for ornamentation (Bartky, 95). Women discipline themselves to diet, exercise, and eat the “right” healthy food that will maintain their figures and thus make themselves  “smaller.” Other practices include eating with small, delicate bites and ordering salads so as to bring on the image of dieting and maintaining the discipline necessary for the “true” feminine image.  Women who do not uphold these standards of femininity are seen as not true women.

Resisting Conventions of Size and Configuration

The Pizza Hauters defy such norms of femininity through their means of dressing, behaving, and in particular, eating. By publicly displaying their love for pizza, and even showcasing themselves eating pizza without a care of judgment, this subcultural group resists the conventional disciplines of femininity. For example, in regard to size and configuration, salads are deemed more “feminine” as they are lower in calories, allowing for a slimmer waist-line, and they require a fork to eat forcing the eater to take slower, smaller bites. However, eating pizza is associated with more masculine traits as they are high in calorie, and generally produce messy results (we can’t deny ever not spilling pizza sauce on ourselves). Pizza is associated as “food on the go,” something one eats in the comfort of home, late at night while in sweatpants. It means letting go of traditional displays of femininity by not only behaving in a sloppier, less put-together manner but also physically expanding with the fatty food.

@h0tgirlseatingpizza
@h0tgirlseatingpizza

Social media pages such as Instagram account @h0tgirlseatingpizza (pictured above) depict polaroids of girls eating and enjoying their slices of pizza. As Crosgrove wrote in The Zoot-suit and Style Warfare, “The zoot-suit was a refusal, a subcultural gesture that refuse to concede to the manners of subservience” (Crosgrove, 78). Though these women are not wearing zootsuits, they express in a similar manner a refusal of conforming to the norm. Looking at the polaroids @h0tgirlseatingpizza captured, what the girls all wear are smiling expressions of pure pleasure whilst eating their slices. Eating Pizza equates happiness, and as the Instagram name suggests, it’s hot to eat! Rather than discipline the body to conventions of dieting, these pizza lovers’ diets resist the socially dominant eating behavior and need to configure the body as “smaller.”

Expression of Resistance through Dress

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Blogger Samantha Beckerman in Opening Ceremony’s pizza sweatshirt

Pizza Hauters not only resist the dominant norms of femininity by refusing to partake in the conventional discipline of size and configuration, but they also do so in how they dress. As Laura Portwood-Stacer points out in her article Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism, “personal style is a form of representation that presents to the world information about the individuals themselves, particularly where they situate themselves socially” (Portwood-Stacer, 56). Style thus “makes visible forms of identity which would otherwise be unrepresented on the body.” Within the subcultural group of pizza lovers, there is a trend to actually wear clothing emblazoned with images of pizza. By literally wearing pizza on the body, one shows the level of devotion one has to pizza, as well as the resistance one stands for in the stigma of eating fatty foods in regards to conventions of femininity. Rather than strive for skinny, they’ve decided that what they eat should not be determined by society’s conventions of what’s proper for women. Pictured above is fashion blogger Samantha Beckerman wearing the popular Opening Ceremony pizza sweatshirt. By wearing this sweatshirt, Beckerman publicly announces her own opinion on pizza: it’s a socially acceptable food group to love and eat.

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Hebdige points out that “subcultural style challenges at a symbolic level the ‘inevitability’ and the ‘naturalness’ of class and gender stereotypes” (Hebdige,89). This is certainly true of the Pizza Hauters, who take the symbol of pizza, regarded as a more masculine food group, and transforms its meaning into a form of resistance. Anyone can eat and love pizza, but the way in which the Pizza Hauters in particular take it over the top and challenges the norms of femininity is what allows the public to think about what it means to be masculine or feminine. The Pizza Hauters are thus what Hebdige calls a “spectacular subculture” : They use visuality through style and dress in order to show to others their difference and challenge to the norms.

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Pictured from left to right: Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne, Katy Perry in the pizza onesie

Take for example, the Pizza onesie worn by Cara Delevingne, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry. An average person would not take the liberty of wearing a onesie covered in images of pizza. However, Pizza Hauters’ looks are “obviously fabricated” (Hebdige, 101), in that they consciously choose to wear pizza emblazoned looks to showcase and convey their resistance in a show of spectacle.

In many aspects, the fashions of the pizza lovers can be seen as “campy,” which is characterized by “incongruity, theatricality, and humor” (Newton, 106). The clothing choice of the Pizza Hauters indicate an aspect of theatricality: Wearing head-to-toe pizza rubs off as funny to the rest of the world, and the wearer becomes an actor against a backdrop where such modes of dressing is not the norm. Rather than cry about the condition of femininity, Pizza Hauters choose to poke fun of the system in that they are placed (gender binaries), and laugh about it through their over-the-top mode of dress. Most men would find this mode of dress unappealing, unattractive, and even feel ashamed or embarrassed with being seen in public with a woman who isn’t dressed as femininely. The Pizza Onesie resists the expected garment of choice in that it literally covers the body. Rather than cinch the waist, make one look attractive, one gets an effect of looking like a blob of gooey pizza.  Even more subtle looks with pizza references poke fun of the stereotype of pizza equating to a lack in relationship.

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shirt by Asos

I Don’t Care Because Pizza is my Boyfriend

Within society, females have historically been seen as not only subservient to men, but also dependent. There is an expectancy for women to engage in relationships, make themselves look appealing to men, and eventually get married. In contrast, Pizza Hauters view themselves as women who care for their own self needs first, and resist the conventions of searching for a man. The popular tshirt emblazoned “Pizza is my Boyfriend” very blantantly suggests that the girl wearing this shirt is not searching for anyone. She  replaces a human boy for a food group. The humor in wearing this shirt also shows that since pizza is an inanimate object, she is basically declaring that she actually does not need anyone other than herself. In addition, such a resistance of conventional love highlights the major problem with a sign such as pizza (universally known as fattening, an indulgence, and something that makes one sloppier, larger, seem more masculine) through dark humor. The wearer of the shirt indicates that yes, pizza is known to make one fat, and yes, it may make seem unattractive shoving slices in one’s face. She  wryly acknowledges the sad stereotype of men going for more feminine women–those who dress to emphasize the body, dis9bwkgJ3cipline their bodies, and behave in delicate manners. The wearer of this tee thus shows through humor that perhaps she is “unavailable” because men do not see her in an attractive light due to her own lifestyle choices. The same goes for the gif of Julia Roberts in ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ where she declares, “I’m in a relationship with pizza” while devouring the slice in her hands. These women thus poke fun of a system that entraps them into stereotypes of femininity.

You Want a Pizza Me? 

At the end of the day, what these women care for is being able to eat what they want without any judgment from society, and resists female/male conventions of dominance by taking back power and declaring “I love pizza, what are you going to do about it?” Rather than conform to the set notions of what it means to be feminine, the Pizza Hauters have developed a resistance to society’s stereotypes through their food of choice (pizza), their style, and their mannerisms. By making a spectacle of themselves, these pizza lovers boldly take stance rather humorously: They do not need to dress for men, or anyone for that matter, or present themselves in any particular way other than for themselves.

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Citations: 

Bartky, Sandra Lee. “Foucault, Femininity and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power.” 1988. Print.

Cosgrove, Stuart. “The Zoot-Suit and Style Warfare.” History Workshop Journal, 1984. Print.

Hebdige, Dick. Subculture, the Meaning of Style. New York: Routledge, 1998. Print.

Portwood-Stacer, Laura. “I’m Not Joining Your World’: Performing Political Dissent through Spectacular Self-Presentation.” Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism. Bloomsbury: Print.

Newton, Esther. “Role Models.” Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1979. Print.

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